Partnering with Downtown DSM Organizations Leads to a Healthy Community
The Downtown Board Member spotlight allows Downtown Board Members to introduce themselves to their residents and customers while also showcasing their support and dedication to the region and our small business owners. Each member would have a chance to create a blog centered around attractions, dining and events that they enjoy and give them a moment to be recognized for the work that they put into the development of Downtown Des Moines (DSM).
Name, Title + Organization: Rob Gavora, Market Director Hospital Outpatient Services and Business Development, MercyOne Central Iowa
Rob Gavora Q+A
What specific role do you have that supports Downtown Des Moines (DSM)?
Part of my role at MercyOne Central Iowa is to ensure we are providing great access to care for Central Iowans, and this includes Downtown Des Moines (DSM). We at MercyOne want to ensure the residents of Downtown DSM, as well as local economy and businesses, have easy access to MercyOne providers to get the healthcare they need. MercyOne takes pride in partnering with many Downtown DSM organizations to improve the health of the downtown community!
How long have you been a part of the Downtown DSM Board?
I am new to the Downtown Board and have only been on the board for six months!
What are your favorite Downtown DSM attractions (Botanical Garden, Science Center, Sculpture Park, etc.) and why?
As a former resident of Downtown DSM, I have frequented many of the downtown attractions – a few of my favorites are the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, going to baseball games at Principal Park, and exploring the Capitol area (there is great history and many memorials for Iowans in and around the Iowa State Capitol building).
What are some of your favorite Downtown DSM restaurants?
I am a big sushi fan, and there are some great sushi options in Downtown DSM — Miyabi 9 in the Historic East Village and W-Tao Sushi, formerly Wasabi Tao, in the Historic Court District. A few other favorites are Court Avenue Restuarant & Brewing Co., Exile Brewing Company and RoCA.
What are some of your favorite small businesses in Downtown DSM?
One of the great aspects of Downtown DSM are the small businesses who provide a unique flavor and product to the downtown area and really give Downtown DSM its personality as a small (big) city! A few of my favorite businesses are Raygun, Jett and Monkey’s Dog Shoppe (a favorite of my bulldog as well) and Locally Grown Clothing Co.
What have been some of your favorite #DSMlocal recent purchases?
I recently bought a few t-shirts to freshen my summer wardrobe — Raygun has great quality clothing with many funny and witty slogans/designs to pick from!
What are some of your favorite Downtown DSM events (Des Moines Arts Festival®, World Food and Music Festival, DSM Book Festival, etc.)?
The Des Moines Arts Festival® is my favorite downtown event — the quality of art and talent this event brings to Downtown DSM every year is phenomenal. The event also boosts our local economy and many businesses thrive with the increased foot traffic downtown. Another great aspect of the Arts Festival is the number of artists and attendees of the festival who come from all over the country — this is one of the regional events that brings in people from all over the USA and helps expose downtown and Des Moines for the great city it is and drive awareness of everything DSM has to offer.
What is your favorite Downtown DSM moment?
I will pick two — the 2021 Des Moines Arts Festival® (and specifically Saturday of the event) and the first Cowles Commons Iowa/Iowa State football game viewing event. I attended the Arts Festival this year, and on the Saturday of the event there was a live concert in the evening. For me, this was one of my first times being part of a large event since the COVID-19 pandemic, and to see our city and community come together and smile was very uplifting. A few years ago, the city of Des Moines hosted a live viewing event in Cowles Commons for the annual Iowa/Iowa State football game. People brought lawn chairs and viewed the game together on two large screens. This was a great event to also bring folks from across DSM and the region together in Downtown DSM. The competitive spirit and collegiality across both fan bases were also inspiring to see.
What are some new Downtown DSM developments that make you excited?
I am excited about the ICON Water Trails project and how this initiative will bring more people to Downtown DSM and help boost our local economy. The numerous bike trails that cross through downtown have historically provided good foot traffic and an avenue for Central Iowans to frequent many Downtown DSM restaurants and other eateries — I see the Water Trails project as another mechanism to help drive traffic towards the downtown region and expose the plethora of great outdoor activities that are available right here in Downtown DSM.
How do you think that others can support the development of the Downtown DSM area?
The number one support mechanism that people across Iowa can do to support Downtown DSM is physically come to Downtown DSM. One of the unique aspects about Downtown DSM in relation to other cities across the country that are the “hub” or capital of their state is that Downtown DSM does not have an overly large population of Central Iowans living in the downtown proper. This can stifle local growth and make it harder for new businesses to find success in Downtown DSM, as much of their retail business is dependent on people who do not reside in a close radius to the location of the operation. Utilizing restaurants, businesses and attending public events in Downtown DSM only helps the downtown economy and it is important that this area be viewed as a hub for growth and innovation across the region.
Recently ranked a top five metro for number of economic development projects among metros with a population of 200,000 to 1 million, growth continues in and around Downtown Des Moines (DSM) in part thanks to unique public-private partnerships that allow community leaders to work together to invest in, grow and improve the city center. Learn more about other recent development projects in Downtown DSM.